By Tom Cardamone, Jr., May 28, 2014
A Quarterly Newsletter on the Work of Global Financial Integrity from January through May 2014
Global Financial Integrity is pleased to present GFI Engages, a quarterly newsletter created to highlight events at GFI and in the world of illicit financial flows. We look forward to keeping you updated on our research, advocacy, high level engagement, and media presence.
This year has been busy so far, with GFI staff traveling to six continents within the first three months alone. The following items represent just a fraction of what GFI has been up to, so make sure to check our new website for frequent updates.
Measurable Change in India
In late April, the Indian Directorate of Revenue Intelligence released a summary of its first two years of increased law enforcement activity targeted at cases of commercial fraud, including illicit financial flows through trade misinvoicing. Their early results have been remarkable: between March 2012 and March 2014, they detected $1.3 billion worth of commercial fraud, and collected $396 million in new revenue.
India is just beginning its effort to crack down on trade-related illicit financial flows, and should serve as an example of the potential that curtailing trade misinvoicing has for development. India began working in earnest to reduce illicit financial flows after a report by Global Financial Integrity showed the economy had lost $462 billion since 1948 due to illicit outflows. Following years of intense political debate and public outcry, the Indian Ministry of Finance declared trade misinvoicing its ‘top priority’ and began working with GFI and others to address it.
Trade Misinvoicing Drained US$763.4bn from Poor Countries in 2011, according to GFI Research
Influential News Weekly Features GFI’s Research & Experts in Latest Issue
WASHINGTON, DC – The latest issue of The Economist profiles the problem of trade-based money laundering, which drains hundreds of billions of dollars from developing economies each year, according to Global Financial Integrity (GFI), a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization. The prestigious financial news magazine cites heavily from GFI’s research and experts, while warning that efforts to tackle trade misinvoicing are “the weakest link” in the international effort to fight illicit financial flows.
Latest Global Financial Integrity Research Places India as Decade’s 8th Largest Exporter of Illicit Capital
Illicit Outflows Cost Developing World US$859 Billion in 2010, Rebounding Rapidly from Financial Crisis
WASHINGTON, DC – The Indian economy suffered US$1.6 billion in illicit financial outflows in 2010, capping-off a decade in which the world’s largest democracy experienced black money loses of US$123 billion, according to the latest report released today by Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization.
Disingenuous Reporting Distracts from Curtailing Illicit Financial Outflows from the World’s Largest Democracy
GFI ‘Disappointed’ in Indian Newspaper
WASHINGTON, DC – Global Financial Integrity (GFI) today denounced an article published by The Economic Times (ET) late Monday, explaining that the story represented sloppy journalism and was riddled with factual inaccuracies. Titled “GFI okay with govt’s black money fight despite white paper censure,” the article was authored by Binoy Prabhakar, the publication’s news editor.
Why Not Address the Practical Difficulties of Retrieving the Illicit Assets Held Abroad by Indian Citizens
In his forward to the government’s white paper released on May 16, the finance minister acknowledged that black money has a “debilitating effect” on governance and the conduct of public policy in India. The paper’s review of the work done at Global Financial Integrity (GFI) on illicit financial flows from the country is clear and comprehensive and we commend the government’s efforts to develop policy measures to curtail the generation and cross-border transmission of these flows. Ongoing discussions among and between various stakeholders in the world’s largest democracy can in time coalesce public opinion on the required policy measures.
It is encouraging to see the zealous enthusiasm that has surfaced in India over the past few years on eliminating black money or illicit financial flows. While many other countries are taking modest steps to curtail illicit flows, India has gone ahead to make the issue one of pressing national importance. Applause is due to the nation, while more work remains tobe done.
India has acted strongly to pressurise foreign banks into accounting for and in the future returning illicitly-acquired assets to the country. This is a worthwhile goal. But any asset recovery will be a long-drawn process and is likely to result only in a fraction of illicit dollars being returned. A more productive outcome can be to focus on stemming future illicit financial flows, both domestically through mechanisms such as anti- corruption legislation and by applying pressure on the international community.
Raymond Baker will meet with high-level government officials, civil society organizations, journalists
NEW DELHI, India; Global Financial Integrity (GFI) Director Raymond Baker will travel to India this week for meetings with government officials, journalists, and civil society organizations. Mr. Baker will also deliver remarks at a press conference Friday afternoon.
The budget 2011 is one among a series of budgets in the medium term that seeks to consolidate the Central government’s fiscal deficit and this is in line with what I had expected. Fiscal consolidation is mainly driven by revenue growth and steps in that direction are crucial in order to reconstitute fiscal space.
Fiscal space means the government can launch a well-targeted expansionary expenditure policy so as to boost investments in infrastructure. Massive increases in infrastructure are needed in order to raise India’s potential rates of economic growth in the long run and to achieve better balance in growth rates among India’s states. The Budget seems to recognise the need to boost growth rates in some lagging areas where there is widespread discontent that is driving certain insurgency groups like the Naxalites. Better balance in economic growth will help to achieve national cohesiveness.